When you are going through a rough time, particularly when you have a serious medical condition, it can be very difficult to stay focused at work.
We asked our Approved Career Experts to give their thoughts on the following situation from one of our readers:
“I have an interesting situation and would like the advice of experts. How do you stay focused at work when you have been diagnosed with a severe medical condition? I have just been diagnosed with cancer.
While I will be in and out of the office for treatments, surgeries, and so on, I still will be working when I can. What to try and maintain as much “normalicy” as possible. Any tips on how to maintain your focus?”
Here are their responses.
How To Stay Focused At Work When Dealing With Cancer
“The mind will run negative or anxious self talk all day long if you are not conscious of it. You can control this and simply live with a clear mind in the NOW by becoming conscious of your thoughts. I highly recommend reading the book The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle.” (Jessica Simko)
“Identify your existing sources of strength (i.e. faith, family, pets, do something for someone else, etc.). Practice mindfulness to relax yourself in periods of lower pain and distress. I have used these options in mental health with remarkable results.” (Melissa Martin)
“The most important advice I can offer is to set goals. The pursuit of goals in all aspects of our lives (personal, business etc.) can help to focus your mind on planning ways to achieve it.” (Gavin Redelman)
“I was diagnosed with cancer about 15 years ago… I chose to stay focused on my work – because I love it and found it was the best way to keep from thinking about my health situation. I chose to not let cancer disrupt my life any more than it absolutely had to. This worked for me.” (Bud Bilanich)
“Four years ago, I was diagnosed with Lupus and didn’t handle it well at all… enlist as much help as possible, at work and at home. Trust you aren’t a burden, but just need this time to focus on your health. People want to help and I wish I would have let them instead of expecting so much of myself. Breathe deeply and give yourself a break so you can get well.” (Kristin Johnson)
Look at the announcement made recently by Robin Roberts, which was appreciated and embraced by her public. I will say it is not everyone’s approach, to share it or lay it all out, but for the ones that have incorporated their situation as they are going through it in an honest and appropriate way, it has helped enormously.” (Deborah Shane)
“In general, you want to try to retain tasks that don’t require daily attention. That way, you can be gone for medical appointments without feeling like you’re running a race to catch up when you return. Depending on your job, you may not do be able to that, which means you must plan in advance to do your tasks before you leave so they aren’t going undone, creating other issues for you down the road.” (Dorothy Tannahill Moran)
“In a conversation with your boss, perhaps reshifting work duties might be best. Turn over long-term projects to other employees and focus on non-time sensitive projects that can be attended to when you feel up to it. In this way, it is all about balancing expectations and having proactive conversations that can help set precedents.” (Dawn Rasmussen)
“Sometime at the beginning, when someone criticizes you or disagrees with you about something work related, use self-deprecating humor. Say something like, ‘That’s the way you talk to a dying man? Just remember, I’m going to meet our Maker before you do and will you be in trouble when you get there!’ That will send a clear, and very important signal, that you have the right attitude and do not want to be taken seriously… you see, if you don’t focus on your illness, they won’t.” (Bruce Hurwitz)
“As much as you can, focus on the things you want and need to do in order to ensure you meet the needs of your role when you’re at work. This focus on the work will (hopefully) take your mind off of the pressing health matters you are experiencing.” (Debra Wheatman)
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